Nearly 200 people walked or ran for the JK5K and Birthday Fun Run, held virtually in memory of Jacob “JK” Karnchanaphati, a 12-year-old New Hanover Elementary 6th-grader who passed away in 2015.

Participants were asked to walk or run any distance during Aug. 21 through Aug. 23 in their place of choice, take their photo and upload the photo to The JK5K and Birthday Fun Run Facebook page.

“I was thrilled and so touched to see about 200 people join this event. Participants were not required to register. They were asked to wear a previous JK 5K shirt, or any brightly colored shirt, walk or run any distance between Aug. 21 and Aug. 23, and to post a picture of the city and state they were participating in,” said event organizer Michelle Karnchanaphati, Jacob’s mother.

“We had numerous local people join in, and we also had people in several states join, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, and even had someone run a 5K in Dublin, Ireland!!”

A run/walk is held each year during August to honor Jacob and celebrate his life on his birthday. Normally the run has been held in Gilbertsville. The past two years, it was held at the Boyertown Optimist Football Field in the Windlestrae Development.

The 5th annual event this year was held virtually.

“In comparison to past years, we just had to do things differently this year. Normally, we have at least 375 participants, so we knew we could not hold the event in person, which is why we chose to do it virtual,” said Karnchanaphati. “We missed having the delicious donated refreshments, music, bounce house, and live raffles, but we did our raffles on line this year and I would say the event was a great success.”

The event is a fundraiser for The Jacob Karnchanaphati Memorial Trust, a 501 (c)(3) organization. Proceeds go directly toward scholarships to be given out to Boyertown Area Senior High School seniors each May.

“This event honors Jacob’s memory in a few ways. Jacob was born in August, so the event is held in August each year. This is our 5th event, and Jacob would have been turning 18 on Aug. 21,” she said. “Also, Jacob had a love for soccer. Each year at least one female and one male who have played school soccer for at least two years are awarded a one-time $2,000 scholarship.”

This past year, the organization awarded the scholarship to nine Boyertown seniors.

“We did not require a registration fee this year. We left it up to the individual whether they wanted to donate, and we were pleasantly surprised at the donations we have received,” said Karnchanaphati.

Posted on the event website at www.jacobk3.com, Jacob is described as being remembered for his love of soccer, having his own style and telling it like it is.

“One of the most treasured memories that Jacob has left us with is the laughter he brought to everyone around him. He is greatly loved and missed by all of his family and friends, and will remain in the hearts of all of those who were lucky enough to know him,” posted on the website.

Their love continues as is evident in the many photos family and friends posted on The JK5K and Birthday Fun Run Facebook page, all of them smiling.

“I think people really want to get out! This brought a sense of community back for a lot of people, and we held our event — even though everyone didn’t walk and run together,” said Karnchanaphati. “People are really missing being together, but this was a way to show their support, and was safe and a great way for people to do it!”

For more information about the scholarship and event, visit www.jacobk3.com.

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